Real Minecraft Furnace Generates Electricity From Coal

There’s a furnace in Minecraft that is used to power all kinds of things in the game. [Joel] of Joel Creates decided he wanted to build a real-world replica, and did exactly that.

The furnace consists of a 30 cm aluminium cube, inside which the coal is burned. Thermoelectric generators (TEGs) are then placed on the sides of the furnace to turn the heat into useful electricity. The TEGs are installed in a sandwich of aluminium plates designed to maximize heat transfer through the TEGs themselves. They’re fitted with heatsinks to help create the maximum thermal gradient for greater power output. The entire setup is housed in a larger aluminium cube that’s finished to look like the Minecraft furnace — achieved by using a CNC machine to draw on the aluminium with high-temperature Sharpies.

With the coal a-burning inside, the furnace was able to generate enough power to run its own cooling and exhaust fans. It even had a little power left over to charge a phone. Overall though, [Joel] hopes that with some improvement, it can one day power his Minecraft car replica up to its top speed of 25 mph.

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Minecraft furnace IRL

Replica Minecraft Furnace Actually Powers The Game

Let’s face it, we all need a little distraction sometimes, especially lately. And for our money, there’s no better way to put your brain in park than to start up a Minecraft world and get to digging. The simple graphics, the open world, and the lack of agenda other than to find resources and build things are all very soothing.

But play the game long enough and you’re bound to think about what it would be like if the game world crossed over into the real world. The ironically named [Michael Pick] did just that when he managed to craft a real Minecraft furnace that can actually power the game. Of course, there are some liberties taken with the in-game crafting recipe for a furnace, which is understandable for a game that allows you to punch trees with a bare fist to cut them down.

Rather than using eight blocks of cobblestone to build his furnace, [Michael] made a wooden shell for a commercial folding camp stove. Insulated from the shell by a little cement board, the furnace looks pretty true to the in-game item. To generate the electricity needed to run the game, he used a pair of thermoelectric camping generators. With the stove filled with wood — presumably un-punched — the generators put out enough juice to at least partially charge a battery bank, which was then used to power a Raspberry Pi and 7″ monitor. His goal was to get enough power from the furnace to do a speed run in the game and find three diamonds to build a diamond pickaxe. Honestly, we’re jealous — our first diamonds never come that easy.

We’ve seen other Minecraft-IRL crossovers before. Fancy a ride in a minecart? We’ve got that covered. Or maybe you’d rather control a desk lamp from within the game? That’s a thing, too.

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A flip-top foundry for metal casting

Flip-Top Foundry Helps Manage The Danger Of Metal Casting

Melting aluminum is actually pretty easy to do, which is why it’s such a popular metal for beginners at metal casting. Building a foundry that can melt aluminum safely is another matter entirely, and one that benefits from some of the thoughtful touches that [Andy] built into his new propane-powered furnace. (Video, embedded below.)

The concern for safety is not at all undue, for while aluminum melts at a temperature that’s reasonable for the home shop, it’s still a liquid metal that will find a way to hurt you if you give it half a chance. [Andy]’s design minimizes this risk primarily through the hands-off design of its lid. While most furnaces have a lid that requires the user to put his or her hands close to the raging inferno inside, or that dangerously changes the center of mass of the whole thing as it opens, this one has a fantastic pedal-operated lid that both lifts and twists. Leaving both hands free to handle tongs is a nice benefit of the design, too.

The furnace follows a lot of the design cues we’ve seen before, starting as it does with an empty party balloon helium tank. The lining is a hydrid of ceramic blanket material and refractory cement; another nice safety feature is the drain channel cast into the floor of the furnace in case of a cracked crucible. The furnace is also quite large, at least compared to [Andy]’s previous DIY unit, and has a sturdy base that aids stability — another plus in the safety column.

Every time we see a new furnace design, we get the itch to start getting into metal casting. And with the barrier to entry as low as a KFC bucket or an old fire extinguisher, why not give it a try? Although it certainly pays to know what can go wrong before diving in.

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DIY Furnace Smelts Magnetite Sand Into An Impressive Chef’s Knife

Some people order their raw materials from a factory, missing out on 99% of the fun… or suffering, we’re not sure which. To make that call, you need to look in on the process [IllyriaD] used to collect magnetite sand and turn it into a wicked-looking chef’s knife.

This began by collecting 150 pounds (!) of magnetic dirt from dry lake beds while hiking using a magnet pickup tool with release lever that he got from Harbor Freight. Several repeated magnetic refining passes separated the black ore from non-metallic sands ready for the furnace that he built. That is used to fire up the raw materials using 150 pounds of charcoal, changing the chemical composition by adding carbon and resulting in a gnarly lump of iron known as a bloom.

From there, it’s just a matter of beating the iron bloom into submission over at the anvil. [IllyriaD] details the process of flattening it out to a bar shape, then folding it over. Seven total folds are made for 128 layers, and in the gallery there’s a fantastic image that captures the striation when viewed on end. After being sharpened and polished, you can see where the bevel descends through those layers.

It’s delightful to see people working through the old ways and proving you don’t need a factory, as long as your true goal is to explore the process itself. Does this leave you wanting even more? [IllyriaD] left some insight about the process in the comments of the reddit thread. You probably also want to check out the tile-roofed hut built by [PrimitiveTechnology] without any modern tools.

An Efficient Homemade Wood Furnace

For poor [workshop from scratch], winter brings the joy of a cold workshop. Since the building is structurally made from tin, warming up the room is difficult.

Naturally, the solution was to construct a homemade wood furnace. The build starts off with an angle grinder being taken to a compressed air tank. After sawing off the top and sanding down the edges, the builder slices out an opening and welds together some rods into a stand for the center. He then proceeds to weld some external frames for the furnace, as well as a chimney stack, some nifty covers joined by hinges, and a fan/temperature regulator to keep the fire going.

Most of the pieces seem to come from scrap metal lying around the workshop, although the degree to which the entire project comes together is quite smooth. Some filter and spray paint do the trick for cleaning up the furnace and making it look less scrappy. The last step? A stack of wooden logs and a blow torch to start the fun. Outside of the furnace, an LCD screen keeps track of the temperature, giving some feedback and control.

The result is perhaps a too effective at warming up the workshop, but the problem sure is solved!

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Turning Scrap Metal Into Something To Work With

Blacksmiths will frequently work to a customer’s commission, and sometimes those commissions can be somewhat unusual. [Copperrein] had just such a piece of work come his way, a ceremonial sword to be made from a supplied collection of iron and steel items. To render them into something useful he had to melt them together, and the story of how he did that is particularly interesting.

We’re introduced to the Aristotle furnace, a fairly simple top-fed air blast charcoal furnace capable of melting almost any ferrous scrap into a so-called “bloom”, a lump of iron with some slag and carbon inclusions. These furnaces are often built as holes in the ground, but he’s made his atop a portable forge at working height to save bending over it for seven hours.

The source material was a very mixed bag, so the first order was to strip it in an acid bath of any coatings which might contaminate the resulting bloom. The parts, including things as diverse as a huge wrought-iton bolt, a scythe blade, and a pair of dividers, were then cut into small pieces one by one and fed into the furnace. They melt as they progress down through the furnace, resulting in a bloom of iron. The bloom is impure and will need significant working to expel any inclusions, but the final result will be something like the wrought iron of old. Let’s hope he has a power hammer, working the bloom would be hard work by hand!

If this catches your attention, you may be interested in a bit of blast furnace iron smelting. And of course, there is also our ongoing blacksmithing series to get you going at the anvil. You could even make a nail.

Via Reddit.

Thanks [Mike] for the tip.

How To Build A Small Metal Furnace At Home

Casting is a great way to make your own custom metal parts. However, casting requires some manner of furnace capable of generating high enough temperatures to melt the metal in question. Few of us have these just lying around, but never fear. It’s possible to build a basic gas-powered furnace at home, with commonly available materials (Youtube link, embedded below).

This furnace is the work of [Ahmed Ghr], and is as simple a build as they come. The idea is to produce a mold in which to cast concrete to create the furnace. A steel bucket is cut up and used as the outside of the mold, with a pipe inserted in the base to act as a feeder for air and gas. A plastic bucket is then inserted within the steel bucket and held in place with spacers, to create the inner combustion cavity. Concrete is poured in and allowed to set. Once finished, the steel bucket is cut away, and a fire is built over the furnace to melt away the plastic inside. Similar techniques are used to produce the lid, and the furnace is completed.

It’s a build that is executed with the most basic of tools, and should serve as a capable furnace for lower melting point metals at the very least. We’ve seen a lot of cement projects lately, as it turns out. Video after the break.

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